On Sunday the 5th of July, the Business Post published a comprehensive dive into Government Digitalisation written by Ian Campbell. Kicking off with a statement that online citizen engagement within Ireland has accelerated dramatically during the lockdown, the Business Post notes that this trend was already gathering momentum before the COVID-19 pandemic forced workplaces to work remotely.

For full access to ‘Crossing the Digital Divide’ by Ian Campbell, visit the BusinessPost.ie

Ian Campbell spoke to several spokespeople on ‘on the inside’ of this digital revolution, including government Chief Information Officer Barry Lowry, and Version 1’s Head of Advisory Services, Ronan Laffan.

In a section titled “Inside the Public Sector: An IT Service Provider’s View,”, the Business Post spoke to Ronan about Version 1’s experience working inside many of Ireland’s large government departments’ IT projects. 

According to Version 1’s Ronan Laffan, “Large government departments are still not using the public Cloud, but there is a growing appetite for what it can deliver within smaller agencies and state organisations.”

“Change takes a long time in government, but there is definitely momentum and undoubtedly a trend to adopt and move to the Cloud,” he said. Version 1 provides technology services to a wide range of public sector organisation, including Revenue, the Houses of the Oireachtas and various departments. The company has recently been working with the Department of Agriculture on ‘Cloud-native’ technologies that remain on-premise in a data centre.

“No one in the bigger organisations will jump and change rapidly. Security is a concern and they don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket or be over-reliant on a single vendor,” he explained. “But smaller organisations don’t have the same level of investment so it’s easier for them to adopt Cloud.”

The Oireachtas is an example, where the legislative houses are using Cloud to rebuild processes around the passage of bills through parliament. “They are transitioning disconnected legacy systems with poor processes into a single integrated platform on the public Cloud sharing data securely at appropriate points in its lifecycle,” Laffan said.

When COVID-19 struck, Version 1 was unsure how the civil service would be able to function. Organisations not known for working remotely were thrown in at the deep end.

“As it turned out, there was no downtime among staff in any of the organisations we work with, which is absolutely extraordinary. Within the first two weeks, they resolved all their issues and seem to have been working harder than ever.”

The organisations that have struggled are the ones with paper-based processes, which are mandatory parts of legislative and legal processes. But departments like the Revenue, Transport and Agriculture are heavily digital at this stage, and the transition to home working was relatively seamless.

Laffan suspects the pandemic will lead to long-lasting change. The obvious one is a more willing acceptance of remote working; another is a change in working practices around software development.

Version 1 has been developing a project with an internal government team that was committed to the waterfall methodology, as opposed to agile techniques increasingly favoured by the development community. Forced to work remotely, agile became the only option.

“They were introduced to the world of stand-ups and sprints and embraced it wholeheartedly. It has been a total success and a transformational way of working for them.”

Another IT concept, the notion of resilience, has also changed forever.

“We always thought of resilience in terms of having a primary and secondary datacentre. Now we think of it as organisational resilience; being able to work from anywhere. That is a fundamental shift that will have a long-term impact on how we think of services.”

For full access to ‘Crossing the Digital Divide’ by Ian Campbell, visit the BusinessPost.ie



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